Modify Your Lasts For A Custom Fit

If all feet were "standard" there would be no need for custom shoes!

Creating a custom fit often requires modifying a last to accomodate orthotics, widening the shoe for bunions, or lengthening one or both feet because the perfect last for the job is unavailable.

 Some changes are "cosmetic"--changing a pointed toe to a round or square one.  Some feet could never be shod without the creative "leathering" of the last.

Remember, the last must mirror the foot measurements to successfully create appropriate footwear that fits.

In the process of making custom shoes and collecting vintage lasts, I've observed the techniques of various shoe makers to tailor a last to the shoe being made.

I'm sharing these photos to expand your knowledge  of the adaptability of lasts.  A last that's "not quite right" can be perfected to do the job required.  Some of these adaptations were made by Old World craftsmen who learned the trade from their fathers and families.

These craftsmen are retiring.  I'm proud to preserve their skills in adapting lasts in the photos offered here.

                                                                Georgene McKim


Widening Lasts

Click on Photos  at Left to Enlarge

The last at the left is being modified to make it wider and kinder to bunions.

Top to Bottom:1)  The last is carefully measured and then roughened  on the finisher or sanding belt to better accept the plant ons. 2)  Scrap veg tan leather is skived and glued to the last with Barge cement.  This may take several applications.  Small steps are better than giant applications. 3)  Leather is ground off with care taken to maintain the profile of the last.  4)  Press Cement or Varathane Varnish is applied in several  thin coats to seal the leather additions.  Note the tacks placed near the featherline to strengthen the leather applications.

Toe Adaptations

Click on photos at right to enlarge

Toes may be changed by adding leather with Barge cement  and grinding to a new profile. 

Lengthening Lasts

Click on photos at Bottom Right to enlarge

Adding leather to the heel area can increase a last that is too short by several sizes.  The heel to ball measurement  can be increased by leathering the back heel of the last.